A heat wave is coming to Central Alberta this week but first there could be thunderstorms on Tuesday. (Advocate file photo by Jeff Stokoe)

Heat headed this way like being under a giant dome

Severe thunderstorms possible Tuesday afternoon for Central Alberta

Central Alberta is about to be under a giant dome of heat, setting the stage for perhaps some record-breaking temperatures.

Environment Canada regional meteorologist Kirk Torneby said that once the Red Deer area gets past Tuesday’s possibility of thunderstorms bearing large hail, strong wind and heavy rain, we should see more stable weather, but very hot temperatures later in the week.

Heat warnings have already been issued in southeastern parts of Alberta.

Early Tuesday afternoon Environment Canada issued severe thunderstorm watches for much of Central Alberta, including Red Deer, Sundre, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler and Lacombe.

“A big dome of warm air (upper ridge) is forming over Western Canada. I think we’re starting to see it now with the forecast highs toward that 30-degree mark toward the weekend,” Torneby said.

For the Red Deer area, the warmth really comes in this weekend, where highs are expected between 30C to 32C, and then things weaken a bit early next week. But there may be some hotter temperatures again in the latter part of next week, he said.

Heat is one part of the equation for dangerous thunderstorms but the other ingredients include moisture and instability. Usually in the situation developing now, with the exception of Tuesday, the dome of hot air acts like a blanket over everything, stopping thunderstorms from developing, Torneby said.

Records could fall in the coming days. Normal highs are in the 22C range. The hottest July 6 for example was in 1975 when the mercury reached 30.6C; the record for July 7 is 31.7C, set in 1960; for July 8 it’s 29.4C, set in 1964; and for July 9, it’s 33.9C in 1968.

One of the issues with the heat is that young children, pregnant women and elderly people are more susceptible to it. People with chronic illnesses and those who work outdoors are also more susceptible.

Torneby said people should drink plenty of fluids, take frequent breaks in cool places such as malls where there is air conditioning, and basements. Also people need to remember not to leave their pets inside vehicles, he said.

June’s precipitation for Red Deer was almost normal, with 95.2 mm. The average for the month is 94 mm. But areas east, west and south of the area are dry, Torneby said.

The average temperature for June was 14.4C, which is a bit warmer than the 30-year average of 14.7C.

The most notable aspect of the month was the June 20 windstorm that saw winds in the 110-km/h range dealing a sweeping blow to many large trees in Red Deer, and knock out power for several days in some areas, leading to the city declaring a four-day local state of emergency.

barr@reddeeradvocate.com

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